LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – SEPTEMBER 30: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez of Mexico (purple/gold trunks) trades punches with Jermell Charlo (black trunks) throughout their tremendous middleweight title combat at T-Cellular Area on September 30, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photograph by Sarah Stier/Getty Pictures)
He was supposed to be slipping. There were fissures in his skills. The pounding, and pounding, and pounding of morning runs, sparring sessions and were translating into what felt like lugging tons of gravel uphill 14 miles.
Canelo Alvarez, all 18 years of boxing, was supposed to come to the surface Saturday night when the undisputed super middleweight world champion put his titles on the line against Jermell Charlo, stepping up two weight classes, Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Entering the fight, Charlo doubted Alvarez’s skill level. He got his punishing answer in a one-way Canelo demolition, tearing through Charlo by unanimous decision.
Judges Max DeLuca and David Sutherland had it 118-109 each, while Steve Weisfeld had it 119-108 all for Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 knockouts).
“I’m great. I’m happy,” Alvarez said. “Thank you everybody for coming. I love you guys so much. I love my family, my friends, my fans who came from so far just to support me. Thank you so much. I love you all.
“I’m a strong fighter all the time, against all the fighters. I’m a strong man. Nobody can beat this Canelo.
“We worked on attacking the body. We know he’s a great fighter. He knows how to move in the ring. We worked on attacking the body for three months. For three months in the mountains without my family, without everything. But I still love boxing. I love boxing so much. Boxing is my life. Boxing made me the person I am today. That’s why I love boxing so much. And I love boxing so much because of my fans, too.”
Even though Charlo (35-2-1, 19 KOs) was coming up from 154, he walks around at about 175 pounds and the size difference was hardly discernable. But Charlo could not do anything to hurt Canelo.
“I just felt like I wasn’t me in there,” Charlo explained. “I don’t make excuses for myself, so it is what it is. I take my punches and roll with it. It’s boxing. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
“Truthfully, I could feel the difference in the weight. I jumped up 14 pounds. I am undisputed in my weight division. I was daring do be great but you fall short sometimes. You just have to keep on pushing. My road don’t stop right here.”
Alavarez came out the flat-footer stalker, staying in front of Charlo in the first three rounds and keeping the Charlo’s back against the ropes. It pounded Charlo with some bludgeoning body shots, one in particular was a right coming with :33 left in the third.
With 1:10 left in the fourth, Alavarez dropped a left right on Charlo’s waistline, and with :24 left, he ripped an overhand right that Charlo managed to block.
By the fifth, it was apparent Charlo did not want any part of Alvarez. He was using what was believed to be a speed advantage, and by that stage in the fight, seemed to be hesitant to let his hands go, in fear of an Alvarez counter.
Alvarez kept coming forward like a tank. Charlo had no answer. He was constantly on the retreat, getting walking down and pounded, like the right that caught Charlo in the jaw. Charlo showed some offensive spark, landing a few counters. But when he did connect, Canelo appeared to grin as if to say, “Really, that’s all you have?”
In the opening minute of the sixth, Alvarez once more played the role of the bully, creeping forward, his shoulders looking like tiny bounders bearing down, ready to deliver more punishment on the mobile Charlo.
In the last 10 seconds of the sixth, Alvarez was literally teeing off on the stationary Charlo against the ropes. When Charlo tried to move, it came in small increments, and Canelo would simply take a few steps to the right, or the left, wherever Charlo tried bouncing away.
With 2:02 left in the seventh, Alvarez nailed Charlo in the forehead with a straight right, snapping Charlo’s head back. In a delayed reaction, Charlo wisely took a knee. Charlo got up on what appeared to be steady legs, but Canelo, now smelling blood, closed in an dominated the round, with Charlo managing to survive.
“I worked the whole fight on going to the body, and then I changed it up,” Alvarez explained about the knockdown. “That’s what happens when you change the punch.
“I wasn’t disappointed not to get the knockout. I feel great. That’s why we fight 12 rounds, right? If I don’t get the knockout, I get 12 rounds to show I’m the best. That I’m the better fighter. That’s why it’s 12 rounds, to show who’s better.
“Nobody can beat this Canelo.”
By the eighth, it was apparent Charlo needed to stop Canelo to win. In one sequence, Charlo did land a combination while his back was in a corner with 1:54 left in the round. With 1:08 left, Charlo landed a one-two, but Alvarez kept coming.
The eighth was Charlo’s best round since the fifth, which he arguably won. But the eighth could have been the first round Charlo clearly won.
With 2:22 left in the ninth, Charlo landed a right that popped Alvarez’s head back. With 1:50 left, Charlo snapped a looping right that caught Canelo. Charlo worked the jab and used movement effectively. Gradually, Charlo seemed to be climbing back into the fight, but the question loomed, was it too late?
With :32 left in the 10th, Charlo caught Alvarez with a right against what had been a slow round. Alvarez was more active, though Charlo may have landed what few effective connects scored in the round.
By the 11th, Charlo’s corner began to stress the urgency of their situation. It did not seem to matter. Canelo went back to slowly stalk Charlo, and land the heavier shots, while Charlo retreated and tried to keep Canelo away. With :18 left in the round, Alvarez popped Charlo with a chopping right on the side of Charlo’s head as he was ducking down.
As the bell to begin the final round sounded, the only way Charlo would be able to beat Alvarez was to knock him out. If Charlo sensed he was down, it certainly did not show. Charlo went into what appeared to be survival mode, more willing to go the distance than to win.
Canelo kept coming forward, whaling at the body, and landing some shots to the head. Charlo, meanwhile, lasted. That was it.
So much for age and cracks in his skill level. No one is catching up to Canelo.
As for Charlo, he’s going back down as far away from Canelo Alvarez as he could get.
“Absolutely I’ll move back to 154,” he said. “This morning, I weighed like 172 or 173 pounds. I’ll grandfather myself into this. I’m proud of myself. He didn’t knock me out. He knocked all them other guys out. He hit me with some hard shots. I thought I got mine off. I’m the little Charlo and I represent that.
“I’ll fight whoever I got to fight. I am down to fight whoever. I want to fight Terence Crawford. I could fight Terence Crawford in my weight division. I know he’s somewhere around this joint. Let him fight Errol Spence or whatever they got going on, get that out of the way. I’m waiting.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a hall of fame, award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.
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